Heartbreak strikes abroad
"Brussels, our thoughts are with you and we stand alongside you. Another horrific incident," tweets freelance journalist Gina Samarotto, after news broke of a mounting number of people killed and countless more injured from at least two explosions that shook Brussels Airport and another that rocked a nearby metro station (shared 10,000+ times as of last count). "Saw the Brussels news break last night before I went to bed. Really hoped it wasn't going to be this bad," admits Grist's Cody Permenter. "No words. Hoping people are able to connect with loved ones and get home safely tonight," tweets Motherboard's Kaleigh Rogers. "Attacks in Belgium a huge shake up for the European Union as both hit Brussels, capital of #EU [headquarters]," details reporter Patrick deHahn.
At least one suitcase bomb is believed to have detonated at the airport. Authorities blame the blasts on what appears to be a coordinated suicide attack that comes only four days after Belgian police tracked down Salah Abdeslam, described as “Europe’s most wanted man.” Abdeslam is said to be the only survivor left of 10 men involved in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people around the city. This latest strike indicates a terrorist network continues to pose a risk to the public despite broad crackdowns and investigations across Europe. The attack began with more than one blast in the airport’s departure hall just before 8 a.m. and was followed around 9:10 a.m. by another explosion at Maelbeek subway station not far from the European Union. Understandably, Brussels is now on maximum terror alert with the city placed on lockdown and all public transportation shut down. "The latest on the Brussels attacks from @PoliticoEurope — whose offices are 150 meters from the metro attack," points out Zack Stanton at Politico.
Meanwhile, Belgian authorities reportedly are overwhelmed by the burden of their investigations. "Belgium doesn't have enough police or intelligence to deal with jihadi problem," explains The Spain Report's Matthew Bennett. Chillingly, one official even went so far as to say "It’s literally an impossible situation and, honestly, it’s very grave." We also direct you to the New York Times' excellent live coverage of the tragedy, with a clear outline of what we know and don't know. For instance, we don't officially know whether the attacks were related to the arrest last week of the main surviving suspect, but the Islamic State has claimed responsibility: a statement posted on an extremist web site implies Belgium was attacked for its part in fighting ISIS abroad. NPR offers a breakdown on that, as well.